Sunday, August 8, 2010

Davises of St. Clair and Itawamba

It was a mighty fine reunion of Davis and other assorted kinfolk at Providence Cemetery north of Tremont yesterday. In an hour and a half, I met not only Davis relatives but also Robinson and Irvin kinfolk among the small gathering at Decoration Day. What a wonderful way to spend part of a morning! I also got to meet some "internet cousins" and put faces with names.

Jesse B. Davis was born in 1816 in Pendleton District (Anderson County), South Carolina and died in July 1890 just across the Itawamba County state line in Marion County, Alabama, probably not too far from Providence Cemetery where he is buried. Jesse moved his family to St. Clair County, Alabama around 1858 where he received three land patents for a total of 280 acres of land located in Section 31, Township 15 South, Range 4 E. If you enlarge the above image by clicking on it, you will note that Section 31 is located in the bottom left hand corner, just west of the Coosa River and below Broken Arrow Creek.

The 1860 census indicates that Jesse and family were living near the Broken Arrow township with nearby neighbors of William M. Alverson, Elijah Alverson, Richard Braden and William N. Braden. The previous census of 1850 finds Jesse in Gwinnett County, Georgia while the following census of 1870 shows that the family made it to Itawamba County. That's covering quite a bit of territory.

The community of Broken Arrow obviously took its name from the creek of the same name. After the Davis family left the area and moved to Mississippi, the little community experienced a growth boom due to coal that was found and mined there. In 1883, the Southern Aegis newspaper wrote about Broken Arrow: "This is the coming town of St. Clair county. It is built on wealth. Its hills are filled with coal and covered with timber. A mining town is now going up." In 1890, Broken Arrow's name was changed to Coal City.

Jesse and his family may have also lived close to a community called Trout Creek. Documents found online and published from the 13th Congress, Offers and Contracts 1861-1862, indicates that Jesse bid on a mail route, thirteen miles from Broken Arrow to Greensport, with bidding ending at Trout Creek. Jesse didn't get the initial contract; he overbid the lowest bidder by $37, but six months later, he was awarded the contract. Once a week, Jesse left Broken Arrow on Monday at 6 a.m. and arrived Greensport by 12 p.m. Returning the same day, he left at 1 p.m. from Greensport and arrived back at Broken Arrow by 6 p.m. For this, he was paid $78 per year.

Trout Creek was given its name from a nearby stream that emptied into the Coosa River. The earliest settlers of the Trout Creek area came from Tennessee and later from South Carolina. Mattie Lou Teague Crow, in the History of St. Clair County, writes that "the Baptists had a church during these early years. It was located about three miles from the center of the community, and it was called Providence." [emphasis added] Wonder if this is where our little church in Itawamba County got its name?!

Trout Creek later became known as Ragland, named after a Mr. Ragland who bought up large tracts of land just before the Civil War and began mining coal there.

Jesse's first wife, Elvira, is said to be buried in an unmarked grave in a small family cemetery near Ragland.

I appreciate all of the hospitality shown to my mother and me at Providence Cemetery yesterday and hope to have an opportunity to visit with all my cousins again. Ole Jesse would be proud of his kinfolks gathering, near his grave, in such pleasant surroundings.

1 comment:

carl weaver said...

I think there is another Jesse Davis buried in providence cemetery. My gggrandfather. Do you know anything about hime or his family and ancestors. If so please share. thanks
Carl Weaver.